Running tallies

I don’t have a good reason for not posting yesterday.  The day got away from me as I again awoke to tackle our house filled with little projects.  By the time I really sat down I was too exhausted to do anything, but watch CBS’s Big Brother, my summer guilty pleasure.  As of today, I’m adding blogging to that daily to-do list that I have been tallying in my head.

  • Hang full-length mirror and framed pictures in guest room
  • Choose paint for study and paint it
  • Unpack china
  • Deep clean freezer and extra fridge
  • Find a “entertainment center” that I love and can afford
  • Sign up for home owners insurance
  • Clean blinds… I think I might wait for a certain mother from Georgia to visit to help me with this one.

And the list goes on and on.  I don’t remember it ever taking me so long to “set up” house before, but I think it’s a matter of having just blocked out the whole process of unpacking and choosing where to put things like a mother who doesn’t remember the pain of birth.  You see I’m working on those comparisons again in honor of my inner 12 year old who wanted to be a writer.  [smile]

In the midst of unpacking, I’m also trying to still focus on living into our new situation.  I’ve been joining Caleb for his visits to some of the active members of our church.  While it takes a little will power to pull myself away from whatever project I’ve been working on, I have so much enjoyed the opportunity to get to know these new friends better.  Added bonus:  I’m finally beginning to feel more confident about names and relationships between members of the church.  Learning names has probably been one of my biggest worries with this move.  I’ve never been very good at remembering names unless of course it was necessary for a history test and I’m sorry to say that I think those names really only stuck with me for 24 – 48 hours.  [smile]  I’m so much better with broad concepts or remembering where I’ve seen someone before.

As a preacher’s kid, I didn’t feel the same push to learn names that I do know that I’m the preacher’s wife and I promise that I’m really working on the name learning this time.  While unpacking a box in the kitchen or bedroom and definitely as soon as I show up for a church event, I begin to go through the tally of names I’m building:

  • Mary Ruth and Phil
  • Christine and Luther
  • Emily, Ben, Lilly and Eden
  • Tommy
  • Ernie and Gail
  • Gary and Glenda
  • Vicky and Gary

And the list goes on and on.  It feels like a bit of a balancing act to keep all of these lists running around in my mind all the time.  Goodness I do hope all my running lists don’t somehow collide.  It could result in some very amusing conversations.  Any advice for managing either list is most appreciated.



“There is nowhere like your first appointment.”

Our move day has been pushed back to a week from today.  While I’m bummed we’ll be in transition for another week, I am also very grateful that the church’s parsonage committee is being so proactive in preparing the house for our arrival.  What a blessing and a tangible expression of their desire to welcome us into their community!  [smile]  I know that I have said it before, but we really are so excited to begin ministry at “The Church.”  We’ve discussed about how we really need a find a different word to describe how we are feeling.  We’ve probably said “we are excited” about a million times in the last month, but no other words seem to capture the anticipation and joy that we both feel when we think about the future we are moving toward.

On Sunday we met a retired minister and his wife who are members of my dad’s new church.  When we shared that we were about to take our first appointment they responded that “your first appointment is always special.  Every church will be special, but that first church is particularly so.”  My parents and grandparents have all suggested the same in our conversations with them over the last month.  When the subject of first appointments comes up, everyone seems to retreat into a memory for a moment and usually the story of some special person or special event from those years at the first appointment is shared.

I was born while my parents were serving their first church in rural South Georgia.  The magic that surrounds the stories my parents have told me about my earliest years of life has always been doubled in my mind because all of the special firsts happened at Cook’s Union UMC, the special community who nurtured them at the first of their ministry.  [smile]  When I went back to Cook’s Union with my parents about 5 years ago for a homecoming celebration where my dad was the guest pastor, I was welcomed back as their now grown “church baby.”  [smile]  I am entering this next phase of my life with Caleb with the knowledge that not everything about being “The Preacher’s Family” will be easy.  Sometimes we will feel like we are living in a fish bowl and the moving will always be hard, but accepting this calling to be in full-time ministry will also be so rewarding.  We will have the opportunity to get to know so many wonderful people and that’s what I am looking forward to.

In seminary, we were warned that our first appointment could really set the tone for the rest of our ministry.  “That first appointment can make you or break you.”  I think there is some truth in that, but certainly that doesn’t mean that the first church you serve can make you or break you.  I am so thankful that the church is preparing for us, but I also know that we also must be preparing our hearts to receive their hospitality.   A first appointment becomes a special memory by this commitment to mutual blessings.

So yes we are excited about beginning our ministry with “the church,” but never has excited packed so much meaning! [smile]


And then the butter splattered everywhere!

Although I try not to dwell on it, there is a bit of stress created by this whole process of moving– the little stresses of not being able to find some favorite book or piece of jewelry because its packed in a box and the bigger stresses of anticipating that feeling a little like you are in a fish bowl on moving day.  Yesterday surrounded by the boxes at my parents’ new parsonage and with thoughts on our own approaching moving day, I had a mini breakdown in the middle of the kitchen.  Thankfully my mother and my husband were both around and were quick to give the strong supportive hugs I needed to reassure me there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  [smile]

After the tears were wiped away, I began to tackle the task of deep cleaning the fridge.  Don’t get the wrong idea.  This parsonage is pretty fantastic as parsonages go.  It is certainly the most spacious house my parents have ever lived in and the newest build!  It is also fairly clean, but my mother and I are meticulous housekeepers and wanted to clean the fridge to our standards before completely settling all of our food into the space.  [smile]  It took a little more than half an hour but afterwords it was sparkling!  Sadly it didn’t stay that way for very long and thus begins the story of “The Great Butter Incident of 2013”!

Date: June 17, 2013
Time:  Approximately 9:30 p.m.
Location:  Bill and Sue’s Kitchen
Situation:  Post-dinner clean-up

We had just finished our first almost full-family dinner (we were missing my little sister Rachel) around the nice round kitchen table in the “breakfast nook” of the new kitchen.  It was so nice to all be gathered there in a familiar way and began the process of making this house feel more like our home.  [smile]  We were all helping to clear the table and load the dishwasher.  I was standing in between the end of the counter and the fridge.  We were nearing the end of the clean-up.  The dishwasher was full and the table was wiped off.  An unsuspecting tub of butter had made its way from the table to the counter and having been wiped clean was waiting to be put back in a top cubby of the refrigerator.

Looking back the witnesses all said that just before the incident it seemed as if time had slowed.  The door to the refrigerator was open and as I slowly reached for the tub of butter, Bill was at the sink; Caleb was cleaning the table; and Sue was at the oven.  Somehow in the process of conveying the tub of butter to the small shelf in the door of the refrigerator it slipped out of my hands.  The top popped off and the softened butter splattered all over me, the open fridge, and the kitchen floor.  Splattered butter was found on the back of Bill’s pants and the dishwasher.  Sue swears that the butter shot all the way up to the ceiling.  [smile]  I immediately froze in place as everyone turned to assess the situation.

It didn’t take more than a minute for the “butter finger” jokes to start rolling in.  I was renamed “Margaret Butterfingers Bagwell”– Caleb thought my maiden name sounded better with the new nickname.  [smile] My favorite joke of the evening courtesy of my loving husband:

“Next time somebody drops something I’m going to say: ‘I can’t believe it’s not Margaret!'”

When your whole family is laughing about you, all you can really do is laugh along! [smile]   Combined with the stress of our impending move, this could have easily led to more tears, but I’ve decided “The Great Butter Incident of 2013” will be the first of many great family memories in this new house and if my clumsiness was the cause then so be it!  In the grand scheme of things a little or a lot of butter splattered around a kitchen is pretty minor.  [smile]



Growing in Gratitude: Home

Growing in Gratitude: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth! Serve the Lord with a glad heart! Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying). Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice
giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible. Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.

Saturday evening we returned “home” to my parents’ new parsonage.  It seems strange to call this place home from the very beginning because everything is all so new and very different.  For the first time, none of my “stuff” was moved in with the rest of the family’s and my room will be more of a guest room than a place I’ll be living in for an extended period of time.

Home has been on my mind a lot lately because of all the changes happening with my parents and now going on the sixth week of being without a house of our own.  What is home?  Where is home?  Growing up as a preacher’s kid has prepared me to think about home in ways that are beyond location.  When it came time for a move during my childhood, we would wake up in one house/home one morning and go to sleep in a new house/home that night.  Most if not all the furniture would stay with the house and we’d come in to just add our own little touches.  Because parsonages are owned by churches for years, I’ve run into many other preacher’s kids who grew up in the same houses I did.  It’s an elite club. [smile]

One big moving day… that’s how the Methodists do it.  [smile]  I’ve never thought about how odd that system really is until I have found myself on the brink of my first move with my own nuclear family.  I’m excited, but also feel very aware that part of the process of moving in will be creating for us the sense of being at home in a place where we will be creating our family history.  Focusing on the present moment of being together in this place will be key.  Home is not the place.  Home is the life together.  So while I long for a house to begin to fill with our love and our stuff [smile], I am trying to remember we have never been home-less.  Wherever we share the activity of the day and wherever we lay down our head that night is our home and we are so blessed.

Today I am thankful for home in its many forms.

What are you grateful for?


His and Hers: Bursting with Pride

I try to reserve Thursday His and Hers post for something with a bit more humor, but today I am so excited over yesterday’s events that I simply must share!  Yesterday my husband officially became Rev. Caleb Frazier!  All of his hard work in seminary and the work he put in on his essays and interviews finally paid off and he was commissioned by the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church.  I am bursting with pride! [smile]

Caleb's Commissioning

Caleb’s Commissioning

Granted this is only the first step toward being fully recognized as a elder in the UMC (Caleb will have more essays to write, interviews, and evaluations over the next 2 years), but still getting to this point is really something to celebrate.  Before I continue to reflect a couple of quick thank yous:  Caleb had a great group come out to support him as he moved forward with this public declaration of his intent to follow his call.   I am so thankful his parents were sitting with me in the family section and equally grateful to have some new friends from “the church” we’ll begin serving later this month and old friends who are also pastors in the conference to join us as well!  The day was so much more special having you there.

The theme of the conference was IMAGINE which seemed particularly appropriate given Caleb’s Beatles obsession.  [smile]  A friend commented on Facebook after I posted pictures of the commissioning that she thought IMAGINE was a great theme also to capture the transition we are making into life as “the preacher’s family.”  I agree completely!  The future seems like it is open so wide now that Caleb has been confirmed in his calling in such a powerful way.

The author of Acts records this in the second chapter, verse seventeen:

‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.

I feel like the prophesying and dreaming about what our life of ministry will be like is just beginning.  I am overjoyed to find that Caleb was commissioned with other young adults who are visioning, dreaming, and prophesying too.  As our Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor said in her sermon during the service of commissioning and ordination, I am hopeful for the future of the church when I look at those who have been commissioned or ordained yesterday.

With the Rev. Caleb Frazier!

With the Rev. Caleb Frazier!

Thank you for indulging my gushing today!  I am just so proud, excited, and joyful.


A duck named Skipper

One of my very first pets was a little white duckling that I named Skipper.  Looking back at it now I’m not really sure what my parents were thinking when they gave me a duck.  It is certainly not the typical pet and comes with a very different set of difficulties than a puppy or kitten.  When I was little hardware/farm stores still carried ducklings and chicks in the spring and I guess my parents were swayed by the adorableness of the miniature fowl.  [smile]

Skipper only lived with us for a season.  When he grew too old to enjoy swimming in the paddling pool in our backyard, we took him to a local duck pond where I hope he lived a long and happy life.  I have such fond memories of that little duck waddling around behind me and am reminded of them every time I see other waterfowl.

This week at Lake Junaluska we have been dodging the ducks and geese right and left.  Well not so much dodging them, but dodging their droppings.  [smile]  They have all set in for their summer vacation at the lake.  I observed them basking in the sun, fluffing their feathers, floating around the lake, and diving in for a good dip in the hot afternoon.  Their presence and the memory of my duck Skipper reminded me of an article I read online a while back.  It was a defense for choosing ducks over chickens as backyard egg laying fowl.   Tina Elliot for Mother Earth News writes:

Yes, ducks are messier, they require water in which to swim and clear their beaks and that water becomes filthy and needs to be changed frequently, and even the best egg laying breeds don’t lay as often as their chicken counterparts. In my opinion, however, those things are far outweighed by the disposition and personality of ducks as compared to chickens. Duck eggs are better for baking, too, and many people who cannot tolerate chicken eggs can eat duck eggs. And there is nothing in this world that is more adorable than a duckling.

She concludes that “happy go lucky ducks” are the way to go.  [smile] She’s convinced me of the same!

Now that we are going to have a back yard Caleb and I have been dreaming about the gardening we can do and seeing the ducks at Lake J makes me think that we should also consider raising a few ducks too.  I can just imagine walking around the backyard with a gaggle of ducks following me around.   We are a long way from figuring out all the logistics but maybe one day I’ll have another pet duck or two.  In honor of Skipper, I’m think we should name them Maryann, Ginger, and Gilligan.  [smile]


Growing in Gratitude: Commitment and Connection

Growing in Gratitude: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth! Serve the Lord with a glad heart! Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying). Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice
giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible. Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.

We woke up this morning in Lake Junaluska, aka Mecca of Methodism in North Carolina. [smile] We are here to participate in our Annual Conference and to celebrate the wedding of our dear friends, Nickie and Christian. It is such a blessing to be in this thin place where the Spirit feels so near.

I love a day that starts with a wedding. [smile] I find weddings to be such a powerful sign of hope. It is a joy to share in this public affirmation of the love and commitment of two persons. Yesterday’s wedding was intimate and in the best way possible an authentic celebration of the lives of our friends. Nickie’s family heritage is Mexican American and Irish and parts of the ceremony reflected these traditions. I particularly found beautiful the tradition of “arras.” The bride and groom were given bags of coins symbolic of virtues and blessings by their mothers. They then combined their “wealth” in a bowl as a symbol of their commitment to journeying through life together.

Today I am thankful for commitment.

Yesterday evening Annual Conference began with the opening worship. I realize this will sound odd for a PK, but I feel a bit like this is my first ever experience of conferencing on the annual conference level. Whenever we joined my dad for conference in my childhood we spent most of the time in the hotel pool and missed out on the actual activity of conferencing. [smile] Given my general inexperience and being with a new conference altogether I was happily surprised to feel a strong connection already with the community gathered in worship. Their celebration was my celebration too and the visioning we were encouraged to give ourselves over to this week felt shared too. I’m probably revealing my “methodorkiness” by feeling this way but hey if you can’t beat them join them. [smile]

Today I am thankful for connection.

What are you grateful for?

– Margaret